KELLY Bashford says she stood up on the first wave she ever caught on a surfboard.
It took her a year to stand up again, but she soon found a competitive spirit.
She looks back on a competition record that spans a good 15 years after winning the Newcastle open women's in 1991 - as a junior - and which peaked, she says, with a fourth in the 1998 Australian Titles and a loss to world champ Layne Beachley heading into the Surfest quarter finals the same year.
A natural-footer (left foot forward), she was still winning Newcastle titles in the early 2000s, and was runner-up at the state titles in 2005 in the over-28 division.
Nowadays, Bashford is a primary school teacher with twin boys and three other children in a blended family on the Central Coast.
THE STORY SO FAR:
She laughs about cutting her hair short - partly to fit in with the boys - but also so it wouldn't bleach and alert her parents to how much time she was spending in the surf.
She was living with a congenital digestive disorder called Hirschsprung Disease - which would require surgery - and which proved too much of an obstacle for her to compete internationally.
Hers is a story of typical suburban Novocastrian determination.
In 1985, the family was in emergency accommodation at Hamilton South after the family house at Wallsend burnt down.
Already a keen swimmer, she was "shocked and disbelieving" when a boy at the beach told her that "girls don't surf".
That "misconception" fired a passion to explore surfing.
She would leave her board in town and catch the bus from Wallsend to the old Scott Street terminus overlooking the Cowrie Hole.
"I'd be there before the sun was up," she says.
Bashford says she was never hassled in Newcastle by the boys in the water - she surfed for Newcastle's East End Boardriders - and her sponsors included Newcastle boardmaker Peter Sheely and Redhead surf brand Kuta Lines.
On the other hand, she experienced the sexism that pervaded surfing competitions, as the new film Girls Can't Surf has exposed.
"They'd put the women on while everyone else went to lunch," she says.
Even so, she loves what surfing has given her, and at 46 rides a stand-up paddle board or SUP.
Here's Kelly Bashford's competition record, as best as she can piece it together . . .
1991 1st place Open Womens' Newcastle Individuals
1991 1st place Junior womens'
1995 Open womens' 2nd place
1996 1st Open women individuals
1997 Regional titles 2nd Women
1998 RIP Curl Women Vision surf classic 4th place
1998 4th Place Australian Surfmasters female open
1999 1st place Open individuals women
2000 Newcastle Open Womens' titles
2000 Open womens State titles fourth
2001 womens Newcastle Open regional titles
2003 1st place Newcastle Open Womens' titles
2003 1st Open womens' Newcastle surfboard association titles
2003 1st Over 28's womens' Newcastle surfboard association titles
2004 1st place Surfing NSW womens' titles Over 28's
2004 1st Newcastle Regional titles NSA over 28's
2005 2nd place NSW womens' titles over 28's
(And we noticed an online reference to competing in Sydney Paddle Surfing Club events, also
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